Malcolm Pein on FIDE's future

by CHESS Magazine
5/2/2018 – What's going to be the next twist in the race for FIDE President? The election is set for October and, for now, we have only two candidates — the controversial incumbent Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, and his long-time deputy, Georgios Makropoulos, who has now turned against him. MALCOLM PEIN weighs in on the situation following the recent FIDE Presidential Board meeting in Minsk, Belarus. After this article from CHESS Magazine went to press, rumours began circulating of a new potential third candidate soon throwing his hat into the ring. For that, we'll have to wait and see, but it's looking like things could get interesting, with the future of World Chess on the line. | Photo: FIDE

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On the future of FIDE

By Malcolm Pein

I was invited to attend the FIDE Presidential Board meeting in Minsk which was held on the first weekend of October. Minsk is the likely lead bidder for the 2022 Olympiad and from what I saw they will do an excellent job. The facilities and hotels look first class.

The main point of business was the impending financial disaster for the FIDE. Not bankruptcy — in fact, the reserves look reasonably healthy — but the imminent closure of the FIDE bank account. Indeed, the accounts may be closed by the time the magazine arrives. UBS, FIDE’s bankers in Switzerland, have set a deadline of the end of the month for the organisation to cut ties with Kirsan Ilyumzhinov who, due to his sanctioning by the US Treasury on 25th November 2015, is what is known as a ‘PEP’ or Politically Exposed Person.

Banks are not allowed to have dealings with sanctioned individuals; if they do, they run the risk of being shut of all US dollar transaction processing or suffer other sanctions. In short, any serious financial institution will seek to avoid any association with a sanctioned person. FIDE’s Treasurer and Executive Director have tried to take their business to many other banks, but all rejected the organisation.

Sanctions, what sanctions? | Photo: Maria Emelianova, Baku Chess Olympiad

As the deadline looms, Ilyumzhinov has been touring the world declaring he will run for re-election, whereas if he withdrew the bank would have no reason to close the FIDE accounts. After a debate at Minsk there was only one dissenting vote on this:

Minsk, April 8th 2018

Dear Kirsan Nikolayevich,

The Presidential Board has resolved: In the light of:

i. The imminent withdrawal of FIDE’s banking facilities by UBS,
ii. The inability of FIDE to obtain replacement banking facilities while you remain nominal President and subject to US Treasury Department sanctions,
iii. The consequent severe difficulties facing FIDE in funding its obligations and its commitments to the chess family,
iv. The adverse publicity that reflects badly on FIDE’s reputation and undermines the confidence of all those who are or would be involved in chess,

That in the interests of the organisation: You should resign with immediate effect.

Presidential board meeting

The Deputy President Georgios Makropoulos (pictured centre), who is currently Acting President, has announced his candidacy for the top job.

Kirsan has manoeuvred very effectively to prevent several possible candidates from standing against him. The Deputy President Georgios Makropoulos, who is Acting President as Ilyumzhinov ceded executive authority last year, announced that as he had been unsuccessful in finding a candidate, he would run himself. I had considered a run for President*, but instead I am exploring the feasibility of joining the ticket as a prospective member of the Presidential Board or as a candidate for Deputy President. It seems to me that whatever has gone before, and many of the incumbents in FIDE bear a great responsibility for supporting Ilyumzhinov over the years, the priority now must be to get rid of him and only then can the organisation be reformed.

The above article was reproduced from Chess Magazine May/2018, with kind permission.

* Wow, didn't we predict this in our report of 1.4.2017?
No, wait, that was actually an April 1st prank:

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About CHESS Magazine

CHESS Magazine March 2018

CHESS Magazine was established in 1935 by B.H. Wood who ran it for over fifty years. It is published each month by the London Chess Centre and is edited by IM Richard Palliser and Matt Read. The Executive Editor is Malcolm Pein, who organises the London Chess Classic.

CHESS is mailed to subscribers in over 50 countries. You can subscribe from Europe and Asia at a specially discounted rate for first timers, or subscribe from North America.

UK’s most popular CHESS Magazine — established 1935! All the regular features of the UK’s best-selling CHESS magazine plus more! In this issue:

  • 60 Seconds with…Robert Ris – The Dutch IM likes to escape to Cuba and has two new works out
  • Dropping in on the Candidates – Daniel Fernandez went to Georgia via Berlin and annotates two games
  • Fabulous Fabi – Fabiano Caruana proved a cut above in the Candidates in Berlin
  • A Road to the World Cup – Gawain Jones and Luke McShane ventured to Batumi to qualify
  • Tough Battles – David Howell and Matthew Sadler had to fight hard in the 4NCL
  • The Greatest Chess Game Ever Played? – Or so wonders Correspondence Senior IM Mike Read
  • The Anatoly Lein Chamber of Horrors – John Henderson remembers the late American GM Anatoly Lein
  • Lein Brilliance – Malcolm Pein presents two highly instructive Lein wins
  • When Capa came to Margate – The world’s best were once drawn to Kent, as Robert Page explains
  • The Chess Talents of Emily and Michael Green – Or, the downside of not resigning before you start, by James Essinger

Plus all the regular features such as: How Good is Your Chess?, Saunders on Chess, Find the Winning Moves, Never Mind the Grandmasters, Studies, Home & Overseas News, Calendar and Book Reviews.

Download a free PDF preview of this issue!


CHESS Magazine was established in 1935 by B.H. Wood who ran it for over fifty years. It is published each month by the London Chess Centre and is edited by IM Richard Palliser and Matt Read.
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adbennet adbennet 5/3/2018 10:26
Getting rid of Iljumzhinov is not the only way forward. FIDE could switch to doing all transactions in Bitcoin. It would be poetic, I think.
fons3 fons3 5/3/2018 09:12
>>Banks are not allowed to have dealings with sanctioned individuals

So the US makes the laws for the whole world now?

>>Kirsan has manoeuvred very effectively to prevent several possible candidates from standing against him.


>>the priority now must be to get rid of him and only then can the organisation be reformed.

So you're gonna reform are you? Make FIDE great again?
MKP1151 MKP1151 5/3/2018 02:55
jrcapablanca4ever, according to his FIDE Chess Profile, Mr. Makropoulos is an International Master with a rating of 2385. He also holds the title of FIDE Trainer.
jrcapablanca4ever jrcapablanca4ever 5/3/2018 10:11
I really wonder if many people here actually remember any chess history.
Nigel Short has never done anything for chess politics, besides tweeting silly and distasteful things and try to break into pieces with Garry Kasparov FIDE by creating two disputed world champions in the 90's.
It is an offence to even suggest that a president of an organisation should be a person who wants this organisation dead!!

I think Mr. Pein makes a more or less correct analysis;
1) Kirsan Ilyumzhinov is the worst case scenario. That's it.
2) In politics and in life, future always collaborates with past - there is no other way.
3) In politics never two candidates are exactly the same. (my note - this has been used as an argument only by dictatorships and similar regimes)

Last but not least. Does anybody remember Greece in the 70's - chess-wise I mean? It was nothing there and I had a friend from Crete where I went once for vacation, who has told me that chess was actually considered illegal at the time! Have you seen how many tournaments are in Greece today? It is obvious that this Makropulos guy who has been a president there for 30 years is at least quite capable to develop his own federation.
I think that this is the other thing that Mr. Pein (and many others) notice to this guy and this is why a smart person like Pein decides to run with him instead of Azmaiparashvili or Kasparov or Short or Kirsan.
** Only negative thing with Makropulos is that I am not sure if he has ever been a chess player.
PendekarMustar PendekarMustar 5/3/2018 09:54
Will 'Gens Una Sumus' motto remain?
rijslaav rijslaav 5/3/2018 12:14
Seriously, just to hear the names of Ilyumzhinov, Azmaiparashvili, Makropoulos, and co. I have panic attacks.
Talhaunted Talhaunted 5/2/2018 11:57
I still believe that Nigel Short is the man of the moment. Respected top level player by top level players, who lives in Athens, likes to travel and never misses an opportunity to show that he is the right guy for that job.
JFIDE60 JFIDE60 5/2/2018 10:43
So, chess organizations of the world, how are you doing when you cannot pay to FIDE right now?
SeniorPatzer SeniorPatzer 5/2/2018 08:44
I'd rather have Garry Kasparov than either of the 2 current candidates.
Aighearach Aighearach 5/2/2018 08:43
@RayLopez - Why presume if we disagree that I must have misunderstood something? The correct implication in my words is that I disagree with his assertion.

History doesn't show that when you have a horrible leader, you can make good change by appointing one of their longtime deputies to oversee reforms. That has been tried in a thousand different types of organizations, for thousands of years, and it is not a serious proposal.

And people proposing it are rarely naive, they've simply decided to they want to be favored by the new leader of the same corrupt sub-groups that were already in control before.

If it is not possible to elect a person untainted by the corruption, you can't reasonably predict that the corruption will be addressed. Reforms in that scenario are guaranteed to be toothless PR exercises. You have to make a clean break; either within the organization with totally new leadership, or more likely, with a new organization without the baggage.
RayLopez RayLopez 5/2/2018 07:24
@Aigherach - read the Pein article between the lines. What he is saying makes sense: since everybody in Fide is tainted, it makes sense to work "within the system" to support a less corrupt candidate like Makropoulos rather than Kirsan, but it would not make sense to bring in a "Mr. Clean" outsider since all the Fide voters have blood on their hands. This is the way Politburos work too: gradual change from within the system rather than radical change from an outsider (think Khrushchev, Gorbachev, Deng, who all came from within the system, albeit with radical results).
Aighearach Aighearach 5/2/2018 06:58
Weird that they already have some people convinced a Makropoulos candidacy is somehow an "alternative" to his longtime patron. It shows that reform is misguided, and efforts should focus on creating an alternate source of ratings management.
Ali Nihat YAZICI Ali Nihat YAZICI 5/2/2018 05:31
It is excellent to see that Mr.Pein makes a correct decision. It will be nice to see more chess people without prejudice joins to the ticket of Makropoulos.

I am sure about the result of an election between Makro vs Kirsan.

Very excited to see the new FIDE management by 4th October....

Ali Nihat YAZICI